1985. This was the year that Nintendo bestowed the video games industry with Super Mario Bros. A series that’s now known around the globe as a paragon of platforming. Artistic charm, gripping gameplay and wacky worlds formed the core fundamentals, and World 1-1 is a testament to the solid design philosophy employed by the series.
Therefore, we couldn't possibly start off the Super Stages series with anything other than this, a stage that some see as the heart and blueprint for Super Mario Bros. level design that proved so pivotal in catapulting the franchise to where it is today.
Players must journey from left to right towards the flagpole and its accompanying castle in platforming fashion. Along the way you'll be defeating enemies, collecting coins and power-ups, all in a bid to reach the end of the level without dying or letting the timer expire.
A stage that has no need for lengthy instructions or tutorials and possesses astounding replay value for its time. This stage was designed around the simple joys of playing a game and learning as you go, which have formed the core values that have permeated the series ever since.
World 1-1 is as recognisable as the perky plumber Mario himself, and this introductory stage showcases everything necessary that new players would need to conquer the remainder of the game ahead. Its clever level design prompts players to experiment for themselves, and we're pretty sure that this trial-and-error approach meant that the first Goomba of the stage has earned more badass points than most of the other enemies in the game, as many players will have likely run into him several times whilst experimenting with their moves and learning how the game works.
The simple yet effective controls that were showcased throughout World 1-1 also contributed to making it incredibly easy to pick up, play and learn. The controls were intuitive from day one, and this basic run-and-jump formula still remains in use more than thirty
ONE SMALL STEP FOR A PLUMBER, ONE BIG DEFINING LEAP FOR VIDEO GAMES — SUPER MARIO BROS. WORLD 1-1 FIRMLY PLANTS ITS FLAG AS A SUPER STAGE
years on. We have little doubt that this stage alone was responsible for the sale of countless copies of the game being purchased by fans both young and old, swiftly making it one of the most popular games to grace our consoles.
We've heard from developers that the opening moments of a level are one of the most important aspects of stand-out level design. Getting this moment right has the power to draw players in, and keep it memorable long after the game is over. The vivid colours, memorable block placements and familiar backdrops of blue skies, white clouds and sporadic greenery that you'll find here are a welcoming invitation to play and enjoy and they also help to solidify the brand. If you're looking for a setting that brings forth fond memories, this one simply nails it.
World 1-1 has demonstrated amazing endurance since its inception, and retains an influential presence that can still be felt in the modern and more technologically demanding games of today.
Contrary to the typical text-based tutorials seen in many games, this stage opts for an arcade style trial-and-error approach. Whilst this may not initially sound very strategic, what makes this brilliant is the level's unique combination of risk and reward. Laid out in front of you are the key ingredients that you'll encounter throughout the rest of the game. The set of green pipes placed at varying heights for example, serves as a subtle tutorial to show players how holding the jump button for longer will allow you to leap to greater heights. The clever thing that makes it all work is that every obstacle, enemy and power up is deliberately positioned to allow the player to uncover a new skill. Failure never results in major setbacks, meaning the player is rarely disheartened, and on the flip-side, failure can actually result in an unexpected reward, such as the hidden block containing a 1-Up Mushroom, a secret that you'll likely only uncover if you fail a jump. What a great way to keep the newcomers from turning away!
It should come as no surprise that this level has been built upon, improved and even referenced several times across later games, and for one with such a strong influence in the video game world it's easy to see why. For example, it's plumb impossible [very droll — Ed] to not have the overworld theme that plays on this level ingrained into your mind, as composer Koji Kondo created melodies that even those unfamiliar with video games have likely heard at some point in their lives. Despite how much the Super Mario franchise has moved on from these early years, and how the tunes we've grown to love have evolved into more cosmic works of orchestral brilliance; there's something so endearing about leaping your way back into World 1-1 that modern video games can't match.
Although this starting stage may seem simplistic by today's standards of video game design, it cannot be denied that Nintendo's flagship series has set a crowning example of how to keep players engaged and enjoying themselves whilst learning a game's mechanics. It succeeds by keeping the level short, simple and easy to grasp without compromising on fun.
The constant rewards gained through experience with a ramping up of available prizes, as players gradually expand their skills makes this highly replayable. From discovering a bonus room stacked with coins, to kicking Koopa shells and scoring big points. World 1-1 is a lot like one of Princess Peach's cakes; the pixel art is the sponge, the sublime soundtrack is the icing, and it's all topped with fresh strawberries — classic Nintendo charm. Short and sweet, but leaves us wanting more.